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This was our fourth cruise on Carnival and to be honest, we were thinking about looking elsewhere after the experience of our 2016 cruise on the Fascination -- which was saved only by the amazing ports we visited. But after the experience we had on the Splendor this time, our loyalty to Carnival is back to being as strong as ever. The ship was immaculate, the food and entertainment were top-notch and the ports were great. But what really stood out was the amazing crew. We especially appreciated the way the staff at the aft pool and hot tubs strictly enforced the "adults only" rules, making the area a quiet and relaxing place for a couple whose kids are grown. The customer service was also second-to-none. We had two potential issues, one in the Golden Pearl Dining room on the first night of our cruise and one involving the Spa on our final day at sea, but thanks to the efforts of maitre d's Yuri and Kostyshyn, and Alexandra at the guest services desk, both potentially bad situations were resolved in a quick and positive manner. All-in-all, we had an amazing experience that could only have been improved by a more organized embarkation/debarkation process at Port Everglades. FOOD; The menus in the formal dining room were varied and tasty. I especially enjoyed the jerk pepper steak and the filet mignon, which was melt-in-your-mouth tender. We also enjoyed the variety of options at the Lido deck buffet, especially the Mongolian Wok and BBQ stations. One of the things that stood out was the tomatoes at the omelet station each morning. On our previous cruise, on the Carnival Fascination in 2016 , canned stewed tomatoes were used and they were terrible. This was a concern for us, because we took it as a sign that Carnival was starting to cut corners. I'm not sure what the problem was, but on this cruise it wasn't an issue because the tomatoes were fresh. If I had one complaint -- and it's not really that big of one -- it's that the pizza could stand to be improved. It was more like a large cracker with a little sauce and cheese on it. But again, the variety of other options made this a very minor issue. ENTERTAINMENT; There was always plenty to do, both indoors and out. The retractable roof that covered the Lido deck was especially good, since it allowed all activities to continue even when it rained. We're big fans of the Punchliner comedy club and loved the comedians. We were especially appreciative of club manager and emcee Jeff the Fun Dude, who did a full set of shows on the "dark" night. The musical revues were much far superior to those on our previous cruise and there was one almost every night, which was also an improvement from last year. Another nice feature was the "Dive-in Movies." Although there was a problem one night with the projector, which cut off the show just before the end before finally being resolved, the movies were good, there were plenty of chairs and the popcorn was plentiful. PORTS/EXCURSIONS: We'd been to three of the four ports before, so we knew what to expect for the most part and weren't disappointed. We especially love Half Moon Cay because of the great beach, the fun activities and the fact that we're not constantly accosted by locals trying to sell us stuff. The BBQ (especially the jerk chicken and the chili rice are always a highlight of the cruise). We also have an amazing time on Grand Turk, thanks to the Chukka "Reef and Rays" excursion. Gary, our tour guide, was informative and funny and the staff on board was great.. They gave us plenty of time to snorkel in the clear waters around the reef and did a great job of helping us with the rays, giving us plenty of time and opportunity to get great photos. We were a little disappointed, however, with the excursion we purchased on Amber Cove. It was the "Explore on your own -- downtown and beach" excursion" that was advertised by a brochure at the Excursions Desk. Before signing up, we asked if the tour included stops at the fort and the Poseidon statue and we were told yes. We were also told there would be time for shopping downtown. That's not how it turned out, though. They skipped the fort completely, drive quickly past the Poseidon statue, not even slowing down so we could take pictures and the "shopping" consisted of one stop at a jewelry store, where we were hounded to buy overpriced amber and larimar. We did stop at Independence Square, but only long enough to take a few pictures. The time at the beach was also too short. I would not have purchased this excursion -- or at least went for something else -- had it been described accurately to us. SHIP QUALITY (Design & cleanliness): The ship was immaculate and in good repair, which was a vast improvement from what we experienced on the Fascination a year earlier. One thing I didn't like was the way cabins are serviced now. The "Cruising" sign for the door is gone, meaning that stewards don't know if you're in or out of your room now. I've always loved the fact that your room got straightened every time you leave it. But now, the stewards only come in and clean up twice a day -- once in the morning and once at night. I was also disappointed that the chocolates that used to be a feature of the turndown service have apparently been discontinued and the towel animals are now left in the morning rather than at night. Over all, the Splendor is a much bigger ship than we've been on before, which was both good and bad. The good included the addition of a third pool, one for adults only, and the fact that activities were more spread out -- meaning that the public areas weren't as congested as we've experienced in the past. The bad is that there wasn't a stage area on the Lido deck and some places -- particularly the comedy club and the aforementioned adult pool, required a lengthy walk from the front of the ship. EMBARKATION/DEBARKATION: We’ve been to four different ports now and Port Everglades was by far the worst and most disorganized. Port Canaveral, Miami and even San Juan were far better. The check in area was too small and too few people were working at the desk. I also didn’t like the fact that we had to wait until we got on board to get our sail and sign cards. In other ports, we got them at the check in station. As inconvenient as getting on the ship was, getting off was much more of a pain. Actually, the problems didn’t start until after we got off the boat and into the customs area, which was also way too small. As was the case at check in, there were too few stations open, making for an enormous line to get out. What made things worse for us, in particular, is that we were told we could zip right through if we downloaded our passports using the online app. I downloaded mine, then asked one of the Carnival personnel if everyone in my party needed to download their own passport and she said yes. What she didn't tell me is that because I'd already finished the process with mine, the app wouldn't take my wife's passport. So I wasted 20 minutes trying to download hers with no success. They finally told us to get back in line ... at the same place we left, causing my uncle to spend an extra 20 minutes wasting gas circling the pickup area until we finally got through customs. It would have been much better if the online passport app was explained BEFORE we got off the ship so we could have A, downloaded it without rushing and B. done it correctly. Although the final few minutes of our vacation were a little more stressful (and hot) than they could have been, our overall experience was very positive. This was definitely the best all-around cruise we've taken and recommend both the ship and almost all of the ports highly (although I probably won't be going back to Amber Cove again).

A great ship, an amazing crew and an unforgettable cruise

Carnival Splendor Cruise Review by Southernfried4

5 people found this helpful
Trip Details
This was our fourth cruise on Carnival and to be honest, we were thinking about looking elsewhere after the experience of our 2016 cruise on the Fascination -- which was saved only by the amazing ports we visited. But after the experience we had on the Splendor this time, our loyalty to Carnival is back to being as strong as ever.

The ship was immaculate, the food and entertainment were top-notch and the ports were great. But what really stood out was the amazing crew. We especially appreciated the way the staff at the aft pool and hot tubs strictly enforced the "adults only" rules, making the area a quiet and relaxing place for a couple whose kids are grown. The customer service was also second-to-none. We had two potential issues, one in the Golden Pearl Dining room on the first night of our cruise and one involving the Spa on our final day at sea, but thanks to the efforts of maitre d's Yuri and Kostyshyn, and Alexandra at the guest services desk, both potentially bad situations were resolved in a quick and positive manner.

All-in-all, we had an amazing experience that could only have been improved by a more organized embarkation/debarkation process at Port Everglades.

FOOD; The menus in the formal dining room were varied and tasty. I especially enjoyed the jerk pepper steak and the filet mignon, which was melt-in-your-mouth tender. We also enjoyed the variety of options at the Lido deck buffet, especially the Mongolian Wok and BBQ stations.

One of the things that stood out was the tomatoes at the omelet station each morning. On our previous cruise, on the Carnival Fascination in 2016 , canned stewed tomatoes were used and they were terrible. This was a concern for us, because we took it as a sign that Carnival was starting to cut corners. I'm not sure what the problem was, but on this cruise it wasn't an issue because the tomatoes were fresh.

If I had one complaint -- and it's not really that big of one -- it's that the pizza could stand to be improved. It was more like a large cracker with a little sauce and cheese on it. But again, the variety of other options made this a very minor issue.

ENTERTAINMENT; There was always plenty to do, both indoors and out. The retractable roof that covered the Lido deck was especially good, since it allowed all activities to continue even when it rained.

We're big fans of the Punchliner comedy club and loved the comedians. We were especially appreciative of club manager and emcee Jeff the Fun Dude, who did a full set of shows on the "dark" night. The musical revues were much far superior to those on our previous cruise and there was one almost every night, which was also an improvement from last year.

Another nice feature was the "Dive-in Movies." Although there was a problem one night with the projector, which cut off the show just before the end before finally being resolved, the movies were good, there were plenty of chairs and the popcorn was plentiful.

PORTS/EXCURSIONS: We'd been to three of the four ports before, so we knew what to expect for the most part and weren't disappointed.

We especially love Half Moon Cay because of the great beach, the fun activities and the fact that we're not constantly accosted by locals trying to sell us stuff. The BBQ (especially the jerk chicken and the chili rice are always a highlight of the cruise).

We also have an amazing time on Grand Turk, thanks to the Chukka "Reef and Rays" excursion. Gary, our tour guide, was informative and funny and the staff on board was great.. They gave us plenty of time to snorkel in the clear waters around the reef and did a great job of helping us with the rays, giving us plenty of time and opportunity to get great photos.

We were a little disappointed, however, with the excursion we purchased on Amber Cove. It was the "Explore on your own -- downtown and beach" excursion" that was advertised by a brochure at the Excursions Desk. Before signing up, we asked if the tour included stops at the fort and the Poseidon statue and we were told yes. We were also told there would be time for shopping downtown. That's not how it turned out, though. They skipped the fort completely, drive quickly past the Poseidon statue, not even slowing down so we could take pictures and the "shopping" consisted of one stop at a jewelry store, where we were hounded to buy overpriced amber and larimar. We did stop at Independence Square, but only long enough to take a few pictures. The time at the beach was also too short. I would not have purchased this excursion -- or at least went for something else -- had it been described accurately to us.

SHIP QUALITY (Design & cleanliness): The ship was immaculate and in good repair, which was a vast improvement from what we experienced on the Fascination a year earlier.

One thing I didn't like was the way cabins are serviced now. The "Cruising" sign for the door is gone, meaning that stewards don't know if you're in or out of your room now. I've always loved the fact that your room got straightened every time you leave it. But now, the stewards only come in and clean up twice a day -- once in the morning and once at night. I was also disappointed that the chocolates that used to be a feature of the turndown service have apparently been discontinued and the towel animals are now left in the morning rather than at night.

Over all, the Splendor is a much bigger ship than we've been on before, which was both good and bad. The good included the addition of a third pool, one for adults only, and the fact that activities were more spread out -- meaning that the public areas weren't as congested as we've experienced in the past. The bad is that there wasn't a stage area on the Lido deck and some places -- particularly the comedy club and the aforementioned adult pool, required a lengthy walk from the front of the ship.

EMBARKATION/DEBARKATION: We’ve been to four different ports now and Port Everglades was by far the worst and most disorganized. Port Canaveral, Miami and even San Juan were far better. The check in area was too small and too few people were working at the desk. I also didn’t like the fact that we had to wait until we got on board to get our sail and sign cards. In other ports, we got them at the check in station.

As inconvenient as getting on the ship was, getting off was much more of a pain. Actually, the problems didn’t start until after we got off the boat and into the customs area, which was also way too small. As was the case at check in, there were too few stations open, making for an enormous line to get out.

What made things worse for us, in particular, is that we were told we could zip right through if we downloaded our passports using the online app. I downloaded mine, then asked one of the Carnival personnel if everyone in my party needed to download their own passport and she said yes. What she didn't tell me is that because I'd already finished the process with mine, the app wouldn't take my wife's passport. So I wasted 20 minutes trying to download hers with no success. They finally told us to get back in line ... at the same place we left, causing my uncle to spend an extra 20 minutes wasting gas circling the pickup area until we finally got through customs.

It would have been much better if the online passport app was explained BEFORE we got off the ship so we could have A, downloaded it without rushing and B. done it correctly.

Although the final few minutes of our vacation were a little more stressful (and hot) than they could have been, our overall experience was very positive. This was definitely the best all-around cruise we've taken and recommend both the ship and almost all of the ports highly (although I probably won't be going back to Amber Cove again).
Southernfried4’s Full Rating Summary
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Cabin Review

Ocean View
Cabin 6A 2274
It was much roomier than we've had in the past. We loved having a couch to sit on, along with plenty of storage space. The bathroom also seemed roomier.

I'd have preferred to be a little farther back toward the middle of the ship, since we were right next to the elevators and it sometimes got noisy at night. But it wasn't a big deal, since it was the last cabin left that fit our needs because we booked kind of late.
Riviera Deck Inside Cabins, Outside Cabins

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

  • Amber Cove
    Amber Cove is a creation of Carnival and it's designed to make it difficult to do anything on your own outside of the port without purchasing an excursion through the cruise line.

    We ended up getting the "Explore on your own -- downtown and beach" excursion" that was advertised by a brochure at the Excursions Desk and ended up very disappointed.

    Before signing up, we asked if the tour included stops at the fort and the Poseidon statue and we were told yes. We were also told there would be time for shopping downtown. That's not how it turned out, though. They skipped the fort completely, drive quickly past the Poseidon statue, not even slowing down so we could take pictures and the "shopping" consisted of one stop at a jewelry store, where we were hounded to buy overpriced amber and larimar. We did stop at Independence Square, but only long enough to take a few pictures.

    The beach they took us to at the Playa Dorada resort was nice (although the water was kind of choppy that day), but the time we were there was much too short. I would not have purchased this excursion had it been described accurately to us.
    View All 659 Amber Cove Cruise Port Reviews
    View Cruise Critic's Amber Cove Cruise Port Review
  • Fort Lauderdale (Port Everglades)
    We’ve been to four different ports now and Port Everglades was by far the worst and most disorganized. Port Canaveral, Miami and even San Juan were far better. The check in area was too small and too few people were working at the desk. I also didn’t like the fact that we had to wait until we got on board to get our sail and sign cards. In other ports, we got them at the check in station.

    As inconvenient as getting on the ship was, getting off was much more of a pain. Actually, the problems didn’t start until after we got off the boat and into the customs area, which was also way too small. As was the case at check in, there were too few stations open, making for an enormous line to get out.
    What made things worse for us, in particular, is that we were told we could zip right through if we downloaded our passports using the online app. I downloaded mine, then asked one of the Carnival personnel if everyone in my party needed to download their own passport and she said yes. What she didn't tell me is that because I'd already finished the process with mine, the app wouldn't take my wife's passport. So I wasted 20 minutes trying to download hers with no success. They finally told us to get back in line ... at the same place we left, causing my uncle to spend an extra 20 minutes wasting gas circling the pickup area until we finally got through customs.

    It would have been much better if the online passport app was explained BEFORE we got off the ship so we could have A, downloaded it without rushing and B. done it correctly.
    View All 1,866 Fort Lauderdale (Port Everglades) Cruise Port Reviews
    View Cruise Critic's Fort Lauderdale (Port Everglades) Cruise Port Review
  • Stingray Swim
    Like Nassau, this was not our first visit to Grand Turk. We had a good time on our first trip there and an even better one this time.

    We had an amazing time on Grand Turk, thanks to the Chukka "Reef and Rays" excursion. Gary, our tour guide, was informative and funny and the staff on board was great. They gave us plenty of time to snorkel in the clear waters around the reef and did a great job of helping us with the rays, giving us plenty of time and opportunity to get great photos.

    We highly recommend this excursion. But if you're in a mood to just wing it on your own, take a short cab ride over to Bohio Dive Resort. The beach is much less rocky there and the rum punch they make (with three different kinds of rum) is absolutely incredible.

    There's a lot to do at the cruise port with a Margaritaville, a pool and a lot of shops, but if you hang around there all day you're missing a great island.
    View All 66 Stingray Swim Reviews
  • Half Moon Cay
    We especially love Half Moon Cay because of the great beach, the fun activities and the fact that we're not constantly accosted by locals trying to sell us stuff. The BBQ (especially the jerk chicken and the chili rice are always a highlight of the cruise).

    Helpful hint ... don't set up near the welcome center as you get off the tender. It's more crowded there. It's better to take a little bit of a walk down the beach down near the pirate ship. Not only is it less crowded there, but there are trees that offer shade and you're closer to both the BBQ area and the pirate ship -- where the bar and bathrooms are located.
    View All 1,130 Half Moon Cay Cruise Port Reviews
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  • Nassau
    We'd been to Nassau before, so we didn't mess around with the touristy things we did on our first visit. We just hopped a cab and went to Paradise Island, where we spent most of the day at Cabbage Beach -- one of the best beaches we've every been to.

    If you're a first-timer, we recommend that you skip Atlantis. There's simply too much to do there and you'll end up either being rushed to try to see it all or disappointed that you missed something. And the cost of a day excursion there is pretty pricey.

    We recommend you take a horse drawn carriage ride around the downtown area, go see the Queen's Staircase and the fort then hop a cab at $4 per person and go to Cabbage Beach. ... When you get there, dicker with the guys trying to get you to rent beach chairs, because they started at $20 per person and we got the down to $5. Also, get one of the hollowed out coconuts from one of the vendors on the beach. They cost $20, but they come with free refills as long as you're at the beach ... and they don't scrimp on the alcohol!
    View All 5,747 Nassau Cruise Port Reviews
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